Ma.gnolia Data is Gone For Good

The social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia reports that all of its user data was irretrievably lost in the Jan. 30 database crash that knocked the service offline.

The social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia reports that all of its user data was irretrievably lost in the Jan. 30 database crash that knocked the service offline. That means that users who were unable to recover their bookmarks through publicly available tools (including other social media sites and the Google cache) have lost all their data.

Ma.gnolia founder Larry Halff said last week that the service's MySQL database included nearly half a terabyte of data. Yesterday Halff informed users that a specialist had been unable to recover any data from the corrupted hard drive. "Unfortunately, database file recovery has been unsuccessful and I won't be able to recover members' bookmarks from the Ma.gnolia database," he wrote.

Halff recently recorded a podcast with Chris Messina in which he discussed the database crash and the lessons to be found for other startups in Ma.gnolia's experience. The primary lesson: don't try to do everything yourself. "I made a huge mistake in how I set up my (backup) system," Halff said.

It turns out that Ma.gnolia was pretty much a one-man operation, running on two Mac OS X servers and four Mac minis. A clear lesson for users is not to assume that online services have lots of staff, lots of servers and professional backups, and to keep your own copies of your data, especially on free services. 

Halff has won some admirersf or his handling of the aftermath of the database crash, but there are also many users who have been critical of Ma.gnolia's operations.  "It has not been an easy two weeks, but ... the community reaction has really affirmed my faith in humanity," Halff wrote in a comment on a summary by Todd Sieling.

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